The exciting new Green Library and Innovation Centre heralds a new way in which St Andrew’s College is responding to a rapidly changing world with disruptive technologies and shifting social norms, says Rector Christine Leighton. “Following our wonderful Centenary celebrations last year, we have embarked on the StAC101 initiative in 2018, a new journey which is focused on the future. We are mindful of the inevitable disruption to our educational landscape and The Green Library and Innovation Centre builds upon that. It provides a space where inspiration, innovation, creativity and collaboration are at the heart of how our students learn, understand and dream.”
Christine says the project highlights the focus of the current strategic planning process being undertaken at St Andrew’s, as the College moves into the next phase of its development. “Skills such as teamwork, agility and entrepreneurship are becoming more important in the modern workplace, but don’t necessarily fit into traditional models of academic assessment. We are addressing these types of questions in our strategic planning process. The Green Centre is an exciting step forward in this direction and is providing wonderful opportunities for students to work collaboratively, and have contextual real-life experiences in their learning.”
There are many factors, including the pending NCEA review, focus on Future Learning Environments, and research into disruptive technologies, which are informing educators’ thoughts on how the years of compulsory schooling can be best used to prepare students for a world of unprecedented change, says Christine. “We are excited by this challenge at St Andrew’s. While we intend to stay grounded in our traditions and values, we also have the agility and organisational culture as innovators to adapt and respond quickly to change. Initiatives such as the Green Centre help to ensure we are providing the best possible learning environment for our students. The Centre honours the traditional place of books and joy of reading, while challenging the status quo, celebrating new and exciting technologies, and opening our minds to new possibilities in the Innovation space.”
Students have made themselves at home in the bright, welcoming environment of The Green Library and Innovation Centre, says Head of Innovation and Information Services, Wilj Dekkers. “We’ve seen an immediate change of culture in the Library, which has returned to being a calm place of focus. The new surroundings and comfortable modern furniture, combined with a ban on gaming in the Library during lunchtimes, has seen the Green Centre become many students’ preferred place to read and research. There was been a particular influx of senior students, and within a few weeks of opening the Centre, we had to order more furniture for the mezzanine floor to accommodate them all.”
Junior English classes are allocated time slots in the Library, with a librarian assigned specifically to each group to act as the point-of-contact resource person for staff and students. The librarians’ role has also expanded to include the curation of resources, and to work alongside English teachers when using Library zones.
Other subjects are also making good use of the Green Centre, says Wilj. “The Centre has already been used as a venue for NCEA Dragon’s Den pitches, interschool debating, and writers’ workshops. The Commerce Department is using zones within the Centre for its Business Studies teams.”
Students in NCEA Digital Technology have access to Virtual Reality (VR) equipment in the Innovation space and are enjoying the ability to 3D print items they have created digitally. A Year 9 Digital Technology strand has been added to the Technology programme, giving younger students the opportunity to make use of robotics, and utilise the Centre’s 3D development tools and fabrication equipment.
Teachers are also coming up with exciting ways to use the technology, says Wilj. “Hard Materials and Fabric Technology teachers have been adapting units of work to incorporate access to the new 3D and laser fabrication tools, while Design and Visual Communication (Graphics) is adding the laser cutter as a fabrication tool to take 3D designs through to prototyping. We’ve also been working with Agriscience teachers to create virtual digital landscapes which students can use to explore the impacts of various land uses.”
Some of the exciting student projects underway in The Green Library and Innovation Centre include the development of virtual reality content to help students at Allenvale School learn to cross the road safely; and a new, online point of sale ordering system for the College’s Cafeteria, being developed by Oliver Griffith-Jones (Year 13) which is soon to be trialled in the Preparatory School. This system will allow parents to ‘top up’ their child’s online account and keep track of their purchases.
Elizabeth Scott-Lysaght (Year 9) is exploring the possibility of making a prosthetic hand with the 3D printer for Project Enable, and is planning to build a 3D architectural model of a building designed by a local architecture firm. Morgan Carter (Year 9) is using the Lego Digital Design programme to design a scale model of Strowan House, which he will eventually build in Lego. A Year 7 Preparatory School group is looking at the issue of refuse in urban areas. They are designing innovative solutions in CAD programmes, and 3D modelling their prototypes.
Outside experts are brought in to St Andrew’s to assist with its Technology programme, including Bryn Lewis (OC 1984), a Microsoft MVP, who has a particular interest in the ‘Internet of Things’. He has been working with senior students to write code and runs a Girls’ Code Club on Friday afternoons.
The College has a strong robotics programme, with its senior Vex Robotics team recently becoming Christchurch Vex champions at a robotics event held at the University of Canterbury Engineering Core. Younger students participate in various coding clubs, and Lego Mindstorms, which is also supported by the University of Canterbury. “Our students are being prepared and supported to create and control future technology, rather than simply being users of it,” says Wilj.